Vegan Dessert: Magic Bars

IMG_4724

Magic bars (also known as 7-layer bars) have always been one of my favorite desserts. The combination of coconut, chocolate, walnuts, and the caramelized sweetened condensed milk all on a graham cracker crust just screams decadent. I have fond memories as a kid eating them at every church potluck.

Since adapting to a plant-based diet, I’ve tried all kinds of new vegan recipes, but I knew that desserts would present a new and interesting challenge. Would it be possible to veganize such a unique dessert like magic bars? Is there a version of dairy-free sweetened condensed milk?

After doing some research, I was able to find that you could make your own homemade dairy-free sweetened condensed milk using coconut milk! On the blog, Detoxinista, I found this recipe. This recipe uses honey, and since honey is not technically vegan (because of the bees used to make it), I substituted agave nectar, which is a sugary syrup from the agave plant. It has a similar consistency to honey and makes a great substitute!

20170411_135213.jpg

 starting the process of making the dairy-free condensed milk, it ended up working out well!

In terms of the rest of the ingredients, I decided to make some of my own adaptations to All Recipes’ “Seven Layer Bars Recipe” in order to come up with the vegan version. These bars generally have butterscotch chips and/or peanut butter chips as well, but I decided to skip those because it would be nearly impossible to get a vegan version of those.

20170411_140412

The bars before adding the condensed milk

Here’s what I came up with for the recipe:

Vegan Magic Bars

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cup Graham Crackers (Nabisco Original and Keebler Original brands are vegan)
  • 1/2 cup melted Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 3/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips (these are surprisingly vegan!)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Detoxonista’s sweetened condensed milk 

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Prepare the sweetened condensed milk recipe above.
  3. Break the graham crackers into smaller chunks and place in a food processor and pulse until they’ve crumbled completely.  *Note: If you’re too lazy or don’t own a food processor, you can buy graham crackers already crumbled.
  4. Add crumbs to melted Earth Balance spread in a large mixing bowl. Use the bottom of a pint glass to press mixture firmly into bottom of baking dish.
  5. Add  a layer of chopped walnuts on top of crumbs and distribute evenly. Repeat with chocolate chips, then coconut. Carefully drizzle the condensed milk (you can add as much or as little as you want). You may want to use a rubber spatula to distribute if you need to spread out some of the condensed milk.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, and allow to cool completely before slicing the bars.

20170411_135951_001

Pressing the crumb mixture into the pan!

20170411_211600

These bars ended up tasting absolutely perfect!  I’ll admit that they came out a little bit toasty because my oven always over-does things, I even set the temp to 300 instead of 325! (The picture at the way top of my post is a second batch I made using a different oven :)) But they ended up gooey and yummy. I was a little nervous about the dairy-free sweetened condensed milk, which used coconut milk. I was afraid I wouldn’t end up getting the same caramel-like taste, but I really couldn’t tell much of a difference from the dairy version. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone, vegan or non vegan, especially to someone who may be lactose intolerant!

16 thoughts on “Vegan Dessert: Magic Bars

  1. The first thing I thought when I saw the title of your post was “How is she going to find sweetened condensed milk?” So I found it funny that that was the first thing you addressed at the beginning of the post. That fact that you just straight up made your own was awesome. Was it worth the time you put into making the milk to justify the time spent on the rest of the recipe? Regardless, those bars looked AMAZING by the end. Nice.

    Like

    1. It look about 35-ish minutes to make the milk, but honestly it just had to simmer away, so I just let it boil while I watched TV! It’s a little extra time but it was easy 🙂 Then it has to cool. I had lots of extra left over, so it’s nice to have on hand for other recipes. I tried adding some to my coffee the next day and it was actually really good!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dang that looks really good. I’m surprised you were able to find a substitute for condensed milk! This post really shows the struggle of finding certain recipes for vegans! I, for sure, would not have the patients to replace certain things while cooking. I am glad you still are able to splurge on sweets every once in a while, even as a vegan. Hope you find some other cool recipes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those look so good. I’ve always wondered how to get a sweet tooth fix as a vegan and this seems like a great solution. Seven layer bars are one of my favorite treats, so it’s good to know that there is still an alternative to the original recipe that will taste just as good. Great tip also on using the coconut milk for lactose free people as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What I took away from your post is how much you really seem to enjoy discovering things through being vegan, it seems like a great way to have a hobby and improve your diet at the same time! I thought it was really cool how you were able to adapt the recipe to be vegan. Again, the pictures in your post are great at making me hungry and also are good for visualizing your process!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kristina,

    Wow! You have amazed me again! I always think being vegan would limit you so much, but you have found ways to make super awesome and delicious looking items that I never would have thought could be made vegan! Very impressive and I like that you include pictures while making versus just posting the final product!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vegan or Not, this looks really good. I did admit I read the title and thought “oh no, vegan snacks” but I’m impress with the overall product and honestly wish I could try it. On another note it seems like you really enjoy the process of finding alternative options that fits your vegan lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s crazy to think how many times you had to find a vegan substitute, but I am glad to see that you made it work for them all. I was hoping there were ways to get the peanut butter chips instead of the chocolate, but I could imagine how hard those would be to find. The bars look absolutely mouth watering! Thanks for the recipe and steps(:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh my gosh. YUM. I also have fond memories of eating these bars as a kid. I’m actually very impressed by how you’ve come up with your own techniques and recipes and making them your own! I’m lactose intolerant so I would definitely love to try these bars. Another good post!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s